More on Normal Mormons

Last month I wrote about the new LDS ad campaign tailored to convince people that Mormons are just normal folk. The 30-second commercials continue to flood the airwaves in nine test cities across America. Longer versions of these “I’m [fill in the blank with a name], and I’m a Mormon” videos are found on You Tube and on the LDS website, mormon.org. The LDS advertising blitz is getting plenty of attention from the media as everybody tries to understand what the LDS Church hopes to accomplish with these ads.

What’s getting far less attention is a similar campaign sponsored by the Church of Scientology. Pre-dating the LDS ads by almost a year, You Tube, and the Church of Scientology website, offer somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 “I’m [fill in the blank with a name], and I’m a Scientologist” ads.

The Scientology ads feature folks from all sorts of walks of life such as a skydiver, a soccer player, a mother and illustrator, a fashion designer, a father, a dentist, a wife and mother, a skateboarder, etc. They are remarkably similar to the LDS ads. Perhaps both churches used the same advertising firm — I don’t know. Compare (for example) the two ads featuring skateboarders. Aron is a Scientologist; Josh is a Mormon.

Scott Swofford, director of media for the LDS Church’s Missionary Department, said in an LDS Press Release, “The goal here is for people to understand that any institution, any collection of people, is really just a manifestation of the beliefs of its members. It’s not so much what we believe but what we do because we believe that makes Mormons interesting.”

By watching these ads, then, one might come to the conclusion that Mormons and Scientologists believe the same things. Indeed, an investigator might think choosing between the two churches is merely a matter of whether one prefers being in the company of Gladys Knight or John Travolta. But, of course, this would be a tragic mistake.

What both ad campaigns seem to be striving for is to make their respective organizations appealing and “normal” to a population that views them with caution and some suspicion. Both Mormonism and Scientology want non-members to “identify” with members and become comfortable with their churches. The apparent strategy involves putting on ordinary, cozy clothing, slipping into an empty chair at the dinner table, and charming all in attendance with smooth words and flattering speech.

Now, where have I heard that before?

(See Matthew 7:15; Jude 12; Romans 16:18)

———-

If you have five minutes, check out this video. Though in some ways similar to those above, it conveys a completely different message and focus. This is Jason Castro, and he is second.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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21 Responses to More on Normal Mormons

  1. Rick b says:

    Many friedns in My church were talking about these videos. They ae going to start making their own videos to put up on Youtube Stating they are (Fill in the blank) And they are Chrictians, Not Mormons. They will make it know they are not mormons and that we do in fact believe different things. Who knows maybe I will be in one. But If I am I will be clear about what I believe and that the LDS taech a false gospel.

  2. setfreebyJC says:

    That Jason Castro thing is awesome :)

  3. f_melo says:

    Wow, those mormon and scientology ads are near identical. It´s ridiculous how low the mormon church is willing to go…

    "By watching these ads, then, one might come to the conclusion that Mormons and Scientologists believe the same things."

    Great point!

    The big difference i see between those three ads, is that the mormon and scientology ones focus on the self, on "look how cool we are", while Jason´s one focus in on Christ, and on worshipping God.

  4. setfreebyJC says:

    The Mormon church is just like any other "religion." They're going about TRYING TO BYPASS GOD by their good works or their quirky ceremonies or their "enlightened" belief system, or whatever.

    One of the easiest-to-see differences, I think, between Christianity and "Religion" of any kind, is this: religion makes a wide path, attempting to get around bowing to Almighty God, accepting and trusting His Will for one's life. Man's understanding, man's commandments, man's limited whatever is the guiding force of religion. This is Mormonism for sure.

    Christianity is an honest and life-changing acknowledgement of the ONE TRUE GOD, His Sovereignty, His Supremacy, His Wisdom, Might, Love, Justice, and Grace (etc), at which point Truth is lined-up and in-order – this really is the way things are – and now we can start living in the Light.

  5. f_melo says:

    Great comment!

    I just need to add one thing:

    You said: "They're going about TRYING TO BYPASS GOD by their good works"

    They not only bypass God, but go so far as to say that God is their "right hand man" as Joseph did:

    "I combat the errors of ages; I meet the violence of mobs; I cope with illegal proceedings from executive authority; I cut the gordian knot of powers, and I solve mathematical problems of universities, with truth-diamond truth; and God is my "right hand man" (vol. 6, p. 78)."

    In other words, God is their assistant in their "good works". You have to have one giant ego to be so blind as to conceive something that stupid.

  6. Carla says:

    Scientology really makes me ill. And to see their ads all over the place talking about conquering life's trials, etc when all they really want to do is take your money for a placebo effect life-cure, I just want to scream!

  7. NGM says:

    I really like the 'I AM SECOND' statement. It provokes the inevitable question: "Well, who is first?"

    Eureka.

  8. caedmon says:

    I watched the video with Josh Maready and was stuck by two things:

    First, he states that his religion about 'making bad people good, and good people better' which was a stance taken by the last 'prophet' Gordon B. Hinckley. Of course, Christians understand that this wasn't the mission of Christ. Christ came to give people life in abundance, not to make them good people through their own efforts – they had the law for that.

    Second, google Josh Maready Photographer and look at some of his pictures. Many are very nice pictures of rather scantily clad pretty women. Hmmmmm, would the mormon bretheren approve? How ironic that BYU refused to give Chad Hardy his diploma because of his calendar with pictures of scantily clad RMs and Mollies yet they will use Josh in a promotional video.

    caedmon

  9. Jeff B says:

    I'm Josh Maready, and I take pictures of half naked women… and I'm a Mormon.

  10. f_melo says:

    I wonder if a bishop got a young men looking at that guy´s website, if he would call him to a worthiness interview…

  11. NGM says:

    Christ came to make dead people live.

  12. RalphNWatts says:

    Was the title purposely written that way? More on (sounds like moron) Normal Mormons :P

    Now I feel persecuted !!! :P

    And what's all this fuss about the Josh Maready? Aren't we saved by our faith and not our works?

  13. setfreebyJC says:

    NGM, I wish I had a few thumbs-up to give that comment

  14. Rick B says:

    Ralph said

    Aren't we saved by our faith and not our works?

    First off according to Mormonism you are saved by your works. Now for those of us who believe the Bible and call ourselves Christians You cannot do stuff like take pictures of almost naked women and things like that. You can try and justify it by saying they have cloths on even if it is less than minimal and they pose in provocative ways. This causes people to stumble and lust, we are COMMANDED to avoid things like that. So no Ralph even if he was not a mormon and claimed he believed the Bible I would then say he is either an ignorant believer in the Bible or he is a liar that does not know the Bible.

  15. martin_from_brisbane says:

    I skipped the ads and took a look at the Jason Castro video.

    Give me a bloke with dreadlocks and a cute ukele singing telling us he is "second" (to God) anyday over an ad-man's attempt to "build the brand".

    I'm all for presenting the Christian Gospel in a clear, winsome and non-creepy way. But (there's always a "but"), please shoot me if I ever get to the point of seeing it as a "brand" that needs to be sustained by mass marketing. That's something the ad-men might never comprehend…

    And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    John 1:5.

  16. Ethan says:

    This ad campaign is working well according to recent surveys. In the last couple of years the LDS Church has undergone a massive re-structuring and branding. Everything from BYU football's move, to the missionary strategy to local chapels. The last stake center was just finished in Springville, the Church is no longer building any stake centers, they are streamilining everything. The Deseret News, like BYU football, has decided it is not a local paper competing with the Trib, they slashed the local jobs and are hiring legions of global correspondents, some of other faiths, to direct the paper's focus to an international brand. BYU Broadcasting is firing up the most advanced HD facility west of the Mississippi (including L.A.), also a global thrust. SLC downtown is undergoing massive transformation.
    So far the results are incalculable for the Church. Wait out the next 20 years. Things are changing and the LDS are parlaying the 15 year old internet attack MO of critics.

  17. Ethan says:

    In other words, your life and very existence isn't about you at all. It is only about God and prostrating before Him for an unkown and unexplained reason.

    Well my life just got a lot more interesting!

    At least Mormons see God as a literal father, which by definition is to guide children to become like them.

    You be the judge.

  18. Ethan says:

    Actually, Evangelicals believe we are saved by the specific work of accepting Jesus. Conversely, Mormons teach that all will rise from the dead and live in a glorious paradise beyond imagination without accepting anything, regardless of your actions. So Mormons believe that all men are saved regardless of any work.

    You have it in reverse.

    If you want to talk Exaltation that is an entirely different matter. Like Harvard vs. Montana A&M. However, in Mormonism all get "degrees" (saved by grace) regardless. Savy?

  19. Ethan says:

    Mormons focusing on what they are.

    [filtered profanity or slur]s always focusing on what Mormons are not.

    Which group has the healthier and more secure self image? Honestly, have some faith in your OWN message (ie, share it, not something else). The Mormons sure do.

  20. Ethan says:

    Unless they don't do the specific "work" of accepting Jesus. Then they are not covered by Jesus' grace, according to Protestants. However, Mormons believe all are saved by the grace of Jesus and not by any "accepting" work. Much better really.

  21. Mary Young says:

    The Jason Castro video was "man worship"on our side,and it wasn't any prettier,to me.If you compare that to "Hillsong"you see the difference in who's being praised.And what does the Bible say about having "idols"?This was not a good thing.Not according to the Bible,it wasn't.This was "man worship"and it was upsetting seeing it portrayed as though it wasn't.When you let yourself be grabbed at, like that,and don't stop it,your letting yourself be worshipped,and that is
    no more acceptable on our side,than theirs.I think we should admit that.Jason was singing about the right Person,but the praise was still going to him.He was letting himself be an "idol" to them.And that's not right.And we shouldn't act like it is.

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